My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Sarah Jarosz – ‘Song Up In Her Head’

song up in her headI have a few things in common with Sarah Jarosz, a new addition to label Sugar Hill’s roster. We both:

– love to listen to music in the car
– are 18
– are National Honor Society members
– just graduated from high school
– are going to college in the fall (Me in Utah, her in Massachusetts)
– love bluegrass music (especially if it includes Chris Thile or Nickel Creek)

However, there’s one major difference: I am not a talented singer and multi-instrumentalist nor have I recorded a stunning bluegrass album. It’s mind-blowing that she’s my age and has made an album as good or as mature as Song Up In Her Head. If I didn’t know better, this album was made by a pro who’s been making music for decades, but it’s not. She plays piano, banjo, mandolin, guitar and clawhammer banjo, not to mention the amazing instrument that is her voice.

This isn’t one of those albums where Sarah’s “good for her age,” she’s just flat-out good. It’s interesting to see how she’s younger than Taylor Swift (By one year) and already she’s on a higher plane of maturity. Taylor is 2-note most of the time, either singing about a good boy or a bad boy. Sarah’s “just trying to figure this life out” and she does that by playing and singing. Scattered through her original songs are 2 covers, including one especially haunting rendition of “Shankill Butchers” by The Decemberists. This beautifully creepy song describes the infamous Shankill Butchers, a group that terrorized Irish Catholics in Ireland during the 1970’s. It’s heavy subject matter, but Sarah takes it in stride with confidence and talent.

sarah-jaroszIn “Edge Of A Dream”, a gently swaying number, Sarah sings about life as a dance. We all dance to the same beat, why don’t we “learn a new dance”? Throughout the album, she makes small references to her age, but in a way that’s relatable and meaningful to older listeners, making good music that anyone can find meaning in instead of a select few.

This batch of songs is not only mature and deep, but they all sound really cool, with lots of picking and guests such as Jerry Douglas. A toy piano is used to great effect, not to mention Sarah’s excellence on the banjo- the textures are varied and interesting to listen to.

This album is really something special- Sarah Jarosz is here to stay. She’s confident and knows exactly the kind of music that she wants to make, and she makes it! I wish I was going to her college, I would ask her out for sure! Is that weird? Anyway, check out this album, it’s worth your time.

Grade: A

My top 3 tracks:
1. “Shankill Butchers”
2. “Song Up In Her Head”
3. “Edge Of A Dream”

Listen to Song Up In Her Head on Last.fm

Buy Song Up In Her Head on iTunes or Amazon.

4 responses to “Album Review: Sarah Jarosz – ‘Song Up In Her Head’

  1. Chris July 10, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    One shout-out to William Ward, if it wasn’t for his review at Country Universe, I probably wouldn’t have found this album. Thanks!

  2. J.R. Journey July 10, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    Nice review. I’ve never heard of this girl (I must have missed the CU review), but I’ll check it out. Listening to the title track now.

    • Chris July 10, 2009 at 7:34 pm

      Yeah, Sugar Hill is great for finding undiscovered artists. I love the title track!

      Also, I updated the post with something I’ve been meaning to add to album reviews, my top 3 tracks from the album. Just to make it easy to point out my favorite songs from the album.

  3. Leeann Ward July 10, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Great review, Chris. Bill will be happy to know that he convinced someone to check this out. This is a very good album. While I hear potential for lyrical growth, I have no doubt that she’ll reach it in short time. Sugar Hill only impresses me with their output. When I hear an album will be released through them, my confidence that it’ll be a quality project is almost cemented.

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